Salmon In Maine

salmon-in-maine-image-1Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are sea-run or anadromous fish that migrate between the North Atlantic Ocean and Maine rivers. Their presence in Maine began with the end of the last ice age, when melting glaciers created ideal spawning habitat of cold water, coarse gravel, and fast currents. Salmon were and continue to be an important resource for the native Wabanaki people, who have lived along the Penobscot River since time immemorial.

Beginning in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, European settlers harvested salmon for sustenance and later for profit, with the Penobscot River hosting an extensive commercial fishery for Atlantic salmon. Sport fisheries for salmon emerged in the late nineteenth century, with fly-fishing for salmon concentrating on the Penobscot, Narraguagus, Dennys, and other Downeast rivers.

The Penobscot River and the Bangor Salmon Pool, just steps from the Penobscot Salmon Club and Maine Atlantic Salmon Museum site, became world-famous for salmon fishing. Anglers would travel from across the state, region, and world to fish for salmon in the Penobscot. In 1912, Penobscot Salmon Club anglers began a tradition of sending the first fish caught each year to the President of the United States, an annual gift that continued until 1992.

Centuries of fishing, combined with dam construction and pollution, decimated salmon populations throughout their range in the United States. In 1999, the Atlantic salmon in Maine was placed on the federal Endangered Species List, putting an end to recreational fishing and beginning a new era in restoration. The Penobscot River Restoration Project and other efforts to restore wild, free flowing streams of life offer a rare second chance for salmon and people.

The rise and fall of the sport angling tradition for returning Atlantic salmon serves as a reminder of the fragile balance between people and nature. We desire to pass along the ethos of conservation and respect for all aspects of river life and hold as our ultimate goal the eventual restoration and return of all native sea-run species.